November-December 2022 - 98

AT HOME in New Hampshire
Ode to the Truth of Imagination
W
e are sauntering through
the back side of Stratham
Hill, a small park in Portsmouth
with an observation
tower and plenty of rocks. We are, in
fact, looking for one rock in particular,
the oddly named Kitty Rock-so named
because of a small, curious metal plaque
fastened to the rock that tells of a young
girl, Margaret Consalvi, standing on
it and saying the name of her kitty
out loud. The cat's name and the
girl remain a mystery.
Still, my 7-year-old daughter,
Little Bean, loves this place. The
trails are mellow, there's a playground
and that tower gives us a
sightline all the way to the ocean.
We've been here many times.
Today we're with a friend of
hers and that changes the dynamic.
The girls are a bit more rushed
than usual, more interested in
each other than in the outdoors,
and that's fine. The mosquitoes
are fierce on this late summer day,
however, and that's not as fine.
So, we're hustling in a way contrary
to how we usually do things.
The girls find the stone and
then surprise me. They decide that
the reason the little girl from the past
recited her pet's name was to bring the
cat good luck and good fortune. They decide
this rock is a Pet Protector Rock. The names
of the girls' pets-Lavender and Rosie-are
spoken to the skies and we're on our way.
A new mythology of imagination is created.
I mention this story because it feels appropriate
as we enter the holiday season,
a time of ritual, mythology and, of course,
imagination.
Recently, I found myself having to reinforce
one of those myths. I suppose some
would call what I did lying. Little Bean
believes for example, that The Beatles still
exist and that a particular Beatles cover
band we venture out to see is the real thing.
Imagine, your first concert is The Beatles!
She'll understand one day that seeing that
band is actually my own wish fulfillment,
not hers, and that may become a complicated
discussion.
But then again, she also believes a rock
can protect her cat. And she believes in the
tooth fairy. And, of course, in Santa Claus.
ing skills and the rituals we develop with
our families.
Still ... I don't want her to think these lies
are, well, lies. I want her to trust me.
After finding our rock, the girls and I
bee-line it for the playground and they gab
happily as they hike and swat away bugs.
They make up stories about insects they
encounter along the way, creating new
creatures that live in holes along
the trail. My daughter names an
inchworm. She names him Rex,
which seems to please the girls.
I proffer the occasional factual
tidbit about bees or geology or
weather, but they're perfectly
happy making it up as they go.
They are children living in
a world where anything is
possible, and maybe we adults
are just jealous. I mean, I wish
that I believed with all my heart
that The Beatles still existed. I
feel like even just that belief
would make me a tiny bit wiser
of a man.
Perhaps the takeaway from
all this, as we enter yet another
season of make- believe, is that
everything comes from something.
Ritual, no matter what
flavor you celebrate, can provide
a connection that-dare I say this-
We're entering a tricky time in her life, a
turning point that cognitive development
pioneer psychologist Jean Piaget called the
" concrete operational stage " of her thinking.
In other words, she's soon going to
start asking questions and my wife and I
are going to have to decide how to ease
her into that fine space between the actual
truth and the qualities that Santa represents-kindness,
generosity, empathy.
Whether Santa is real, the Beatles still
play or a boulder protects pets shouldn't
be as important as the flare of imagination,
the process of developing critical learnoutweighs
what we perceive to be true or at
least relatively true.
Children are artists and philosophers
and inventors. So what if the sky they draw
isn't always blue, nor the sun yellow. Let
Santa come. There's magic in imagination
and there's magic in just being together.
Back at home, my daughter finds her cat
and lifts her into a snuggle, and for once
Lavender doesn't resist and gives herself
over to my daughter's affections. Maybe
the cat felt a little something from the
heavens when my daughter shared her
name atop the rock. Who can say what the
reality may be. NHH
BY DAN SZCZESNY | ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLYN VIBBERT
New Hampshire Home | 96 | November/December 2022

November-December 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November-December 2022

November-December 2022 - 1
November-December 2022 - 2
November-December 2022 - 3
November-December 2022 - 4
November-December 2022 - 5
November-December 2022 - 6
November-December 2022 - 7
November-December 2022 - 8
November-December 2022 - 9
November-December 2022 - 10
November-December 2022 - 11
November-December 2022 - 12
November-December 2022 - 13
November-December 2022 - 14
November-December 2022 - 15
November-December 2022 - 16
November-December 2022 - 17
November-December 2022 - 18
November-December 2022 - 19
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